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‘My Mom Read the Ending So Different’

'My Mom Read the Ending So Different'


  • The ending of
    sparks debate about Tashi’s true feelings as some see happiness, others detect anger.
  • Zendaya’s mother’s interpretation of
    ‘ ending adds depth, and director Luca Guadagnino approves.
  • Challengers
    is now playing in theaters nationwide.

SPOILER ALERT: This story contains plot details about the ending of Challengers.

Since opening last Friday, Challengers has captivated moviegoers with its tale of a very complicated three-way relationship that is told through the intense volley of tennis matches. Metaphors involving the sport and the interplay between Tashi Duncan (Zendaya), Art Donaldson (Mike Faist), and Patrick Zweig (Josh O’Connor) abound throughout the film, and it’s open to interpretation what feelings they all have about each other. What is a bit more nuanced is the film’s ending, which has been viewed as ambiguous by some and more clear-cut by others. In fact, Zendaya believed she had a firm grasp on the film’s closing moments…until her mom came in with a more definitive reaction to the ending of the film.

To add a bit of clarity, the events leading up to the ending have the characters in a position where they have to make choices. Tashi is married to Art but this very complicated love triangle began years later when the latter met her with his tennis buddy Patrick, resulting in a steamy night that has been showcased in most of the film’s trailers. Ultimately, Tashi ends up with Patrick initially, but a series of events leads to the pair breaking up and Tashi ending up with Art. Tashi is injured during a match, practically ending her tennis career, but she finds herself stepping in as Art’s coach and becoming his wife.

The Ending of Challengers Is Open to Interpretation

As the threesome meets again, Tashi enters Art as a wild card in a Challenger event because he has been struggling after recovering from an injury. He’s one US Open title away from a Career Grand Slam but, as fate has it, Art will be facing off against Patrick at the Challenger event. Tashi meets with Patrick and asks him to throw the match to Art, knowing that if he gets this one win, he’ll maybe want to carry on with his career, despite his desire to stop.

At the end of the film, it all comes down to a match-point volley between the duo, which concludes with Art leaping over the net and falling into Patrick’s arms. Tashi screams “Come on!” following the volley, but it’s open to interpretation, to some anyway, whether she’s happy or enraged by the outcome.


Challengers’ Steamy Three-Way Kiss Almost Didn’t Make the Cut, Cast Addresses the Film’s Exhilarating Ending

While Challengers’ emotional ending is still being debated, the infamous three-way kiss almost didn’t even end up in the movie.

During a chat with The New York Times, via Variety, Zendaya admits that the ending is confusing to some, despite the film being very clear for her. The actress didn’t fully know how open-ended the conclusion was until her mom had a totally different take than hers.

“My mom read the ending so different. My mom is like, ‘She’s pissed because they realize that they don’t need her anymore.’ I was like, ‘But I smile a little bit at the end!’ My mom was watching it behind me and every time my character does something bad or cheats on her husband or whatever, she’s like, ‘Why do you do that?’ She’s so angry with Tashi, she’s so upset. But it’s interesting, I was like, ‘What? I don’t know where you got that from.’ I’m in the movie and I feel like I have a good sense of what I thought this ending was supposed to be, and she was like, ‘No. This is what it is. So sorry.’

Director Luca Guadagnino admitted to liking Zendaya’s mother’s take on the ending, indicating that Tashi is a bit of a director in their relationship.

“I like that reading” of the ending. Tashi’s a director. She’s like Lermontov in ‘The Red Shoes,’ she makes things happen. And maybe your mom is right, maybe Tashi wants them to find each other … I like what your mom says, because it adds another level that goes beyond our intentions. For me, she smiles at the end, if you’re going to freeze frame.”

It’s clear that Zendaya believed the small smile at the end was that of approval of the moment between the two and perhaps even a celebration of the sport, since Tashi says on more than one occasion that she just wants to watch great tennis. While Zendaya’s mother saw it differently, O’Connor thought it was great that it could be viewed from another angle. The actor said:

“That’s so cool. I really like that read. I think that’s the point, everyone’s got a different perspective on it.”

The other part of the triangle, played by Faist, believed that the ending was ultimately “interpretative.”

is now playing in theaters nationwide.

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